The control of space traffic is coming. The US Department of Commerce has accepted the challenge of creating an appropriate policy portfolio that will eventually lead to regulations on how to fly its satellite near Earth.
This challenge is daunting. Unlike air traffic control, where aircraft must respond to ATC commands, it is a simple three-dimensional space above the surface of the earth between the ground and 60,000 feet in height. Room surveillance must deal with a three-dimensional curved space in which all objects are in low orbits, each moving at speeds of more than 16,000 MPH and moving in all directions.
Not even one-hundredth of a percent of low-orbit objects is controlled. Thanks to the laws of orbital mechanics, there is only one way to avoid collisions, flying every satellite at its own height.
If we go back to 1
All satellites would have to maintain circular orbits with strict tolerances for altitude variations. At the end of life, each satellite would be immediately orbited to make room for replacement satellites. And no debris was allowed to be, without the fraudulent satellite operator serious penalties were imposed.
Unfortunately, we are 60 years too late for this idyllic scenario. Upcoming regulations on space control must necessarily be of a draconian nature. A quick look at the chaotic nature of low-profile space travel today should be frightening for government policymakers and regulators. There are an estimated 30,000 objects in the near-earth space that are larger than 4 inches.
None of these satellites was launched with traffic management in mind. Add billions of small debris objects to this population, all in the same space. Finally, remember that only a few hundred of these orbital objects are controllable, and imagine being responsible for space.
In summary, one has to ask, "Who wants to be a space controller?"
Space Technology – Applications and Research
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Space Smash: Simulating when satellites collide
Paris (ESA ) April 25, 2018
Satellites orbiting Earth travel at many miles per second – so what happens when their paths cross? Satellite collisions are rare and their consequences are poorly understood, so a new project tries to simulate them to better predict future space debris.
Only four such collisions have occurred in space history – most of the space debris comes from explosions of leftover fuel tanks or batteries – but they are expected to become more common.
"We w … read more